What Would Kinky Do?: How to Unscrew a Screwed-Up World

What Would Kinky Do?: How to Unscrew a Screwed-Up World

by Kinky Friedman

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Overview

Kinky Friedman, who would be our contemporary Will Rogers if Will Rogers had been Jewish, smoked cigars, and foolish enough to believe he could govern the great state of Texas, returns with this collection of hilariously raunchy, sometimes poignant, and always insightful essays. With fearless wit and wisdom born from many a late night's experience, Kinky offers both pearls and cowpats that touch on life, death, and everything in between.

Considering the current predicament of our nation and the world at large, the question is, "What would Kinky do?" His answers invoke Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Judy Garland, George Bush, and other cultural touchstones; reflect on Texas etiquette, smoking in bars, mullet haircuts, immigration policy, and how Don Imus died for our sins; and advise on how to handle a nonstop talker on a long flight, how to deliver the perfect air kiss, and what to do when a redneck hollers "Hey y'all, watch this!"

Whether he's "the new Mark Twain" (Southern Living), "in a class with Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Will Rogers, and, yes, Henny Youngman" (The New York Post), "a Texas legend" (President George W. Bush), or "the Mother Teresa of literature" (Willie Nelson), Kinky Friedman is an outrageously funny and uncommonly smart observer of our common predicament: life and what to do about it.

A little friendly advice from "Texas for Dummies"

*Get you some brontosaurus-foreskin boots and a big ol' cowboy hat. Always remember, only two kinds of people can get away with wearing their hats indoors: cowboys and Jews. Try to be one of them.

*Get your hair fixed right. If you're male, cut it into a "mullet" (short on the sides and top, long in the back—-think Billy Ray Cyrus). If you're female, make it as big as possible, with lots of teasing and hair spray. If you can hide a buck knife in there, you're ready.

*Buy you a big ol' pickup truck or a Cadillac. I myself drive a Yom Kippur Clipper. That's a Jewish Cadillac—-stops on a dime and picks it up.

*Don't be surprised to find small plastic bags of giant dill pickles in local convenience stores.

*Everything goes better with picante sauce. No exceptions.

*Don't tell us how you did it up there. Nobody cares.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312561048
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 07/07/2009
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 1,274,216
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Kinky Friedman is a country music singer, politician, Texas Monthly columnist, the author of a successful mystery series, and was a candidate for governor in Texas in 2006. He wants to take things back to a time when the cowboys all sang and their horses were smart.

Read an Excerpt

What Would Kinky Do?

How to Unscrew a Screwed-Up World


By Kinky Friedman

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2008 Kinky Friedman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-2887-8



CHAPTER 1

UNFAIR GAME

* * *


Since I've forgotten the first half of my life, it's rather difficult for me to remember my childhood, but I do recall going hunting at the wise old age of seven for the first and last time. One night my four-year-old brother, Roger, and I went coon hunting near Medina with our neighbor Cabbie. Cabbie had an old coon dog named Rip, and Roger suggested that I kiss the dog on the nose. It was the last time in my life I ever took advice from anyone who is younger than I am. Rip bit me ferociously on my nose, causing excessive bleeding and even more excessive tears.

Eventually, the hunt proceeded with Cabbie navigating his Jeep down by a stream under a canopy of beautiful cypress trees. It was a dark, moonless night, and Cabbie told us to look up at the tops of the trees and squeeze the trigger when we saw a pair of eyes. This seemingly simple suggestion was complicated somewhat by the fact that God had chosen that night to envelop the Hill Country in a majestic cathedral sky from which stars peripatetically peeped out through the branches at little children, making it impossible to determine whether you were shooting a raccoon or a star. In the end my brother and I each killed a young ringtail, an animal officially recognized as a varmint by the county. We collected a bounty of $1.50 apiece. We did not inquire back then, nor did the county ever tell us, what bounty they might have offered for killing a star.

Now, you might be asking yourself, "Why is this man sifting through the ashes of his childhood for a poignant hunting story now that hunting season is over?" The answer is that hunting season is never really over. Deer season may have ended, but that does not mean any of us are safe from an errant bullet fired by an errant bullethead. It only means that hunters have turned their cold sights from harmless Bambies and creatures that fly higher than their dreams to other prey. There is never a moment when a Texan cannot legally curl his finger 'round a happy trigger. Seasons have been decreed for white-tailed deer, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, alligator, dove, turkey, rabbit, javelina, quail, pheasant, squirrel, and yes, Virginia, that most fearsome of all predators in the wild, the lesser prairie chicken.

Today, however, I do not suffer hunters gladly. I realize, of course, that in a deeper sense all of us are hunting for something, and few of us ever find it. If we do, we often find ourselves killing the thing we love. As Oscar Wilde once so aptly described fox hunting: "The unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible." And yet it goes on and on. Dressed in camouflage, the great white hunters sit in family restaurants, shiver in deer blinds, and swap stories sometimes proud, sometimes wistful, for the one that got away. As blameless as bullfighters and butterfly collectors, these men for all seasons continue to wage a one-sided war against creation. They hunt only, they say, to cull the vast deer population. They hunt only to teach kids how to hunt. These are the good reasons they give, but they are not necessarily the real reasons. The truth is a much more difficult animal to track. As an honest old redneck once told me about deer: "I just like to put the brakes on 'em."

Yet ours is not the only culture lacking enough culture not to practice such practices. In my own Peace Corps experience in Borneo, I lived for a time among a nomadic tribe of pygmies known as the Punan. One of the delicacies of the Punan is monkey brains, which I ate on a number of occasions. Monkey brains, perhaps not surprisingly, taste quite similar to lesser prairie chicken. The Punan use blowpipes to kill their game, but these seemingly primitive little people are not without their own values of sportsmanship. They do not shoot an animal until it has seen them coming, which gives their prey a fighting chance to flee. This is a foreign concept to those more civilized Texans who hunt elk from a helicopter.

Fortunately, only about 4 percent of all Texans are licensed hunters. This means that 96 percent of us are relegated to the unhappy status of moving targets. Once the hunters shoot the donkey in the farmer's field, they'll shoot our asses next. A great writer named Anonymous once wrote: "The larger the prey, the more corrupt is the soul of the hunter." This may help explain why so many big-game hunters suffer from erectile dysfunction and run the risk of ending up like Ernest Hemingway, who eventually bagged the biggest game of all, himself. If you live in the Hill Country, however, you're probably just proud to have survived another hunting season without getting your head blown off. This does not necessarily guarantee, of course, that you won't be shot in the buttocks by some bow- hunting nerd.

CHAPTER 2

ARRIVEDERCI MELANOMÁ

* * *


I was just a small boy when our family dentist in Houston told my father it was imperative that he have his wisdom teeth taken out immediately. Fifty years later, my dad had them removed. My old-timer friend Earl Buckelew once told me he never paid any mind to cholesterol. "Hell," he said, "when we were growin' up, we didn't even know we had blood." My own attitude toward health matters has been pretty similar. In Hawaii and Australia, I've rarely bothered to apply suntan lotion unless it was to a shapely pair of legs obviously not belonging to me. In other words, I never gave much thought to saving my own skin. Then, things suddenly got serious as cancer.

Before my typewriter and I drown ourselves in intimations of morality, let me say for the record that I'm not a hypochondriac, nor do I believe every word a doctor tells me. I've always possessed the two qualities that Ingrid Bergman claimed were essential to happiness: good health and bad memory. (At least I think it was Ingrid Bergman.) The fact is, sometimes if you ignore what a doctor tells you, everything will be fine. Other times you can answer that knock on the door and it's an old man with a scythe selling Girl Scout cookies.

At any rate, when I was in Austin a few months back, I noticed that parts of my anatomy were beginning to resemble those of an ancient sea tortoise. My Kerrville dermatologist, Fred Speck (I always thought Dr. Speck was a good name for a dermatologist), has a rather long waiting list, so I went to a new guy, Tom Yturri, a physician's assistant recommended to me by a doctor friend of my fairy godmother's. When I showed Yturri what was troubling me, he waved his hand and said it was nothing, but he did find two or three other little spots that piqued his curiosity. He brought in another guy, Dr. Kevin Flynn, who was wearing a rather elaborate pair of scuba goggles, and they studied the spots together.

"We'll do biopsies on these three," Yturri said at last.

"Let me guess," I said. "Whether you do two or three depends on how far behind you are on your boat payments?"

Yturri chuckled dryly. He did the biopsies fairly painlessly, putting each specimen into a separate little bottle like Dr. Quincy used to do on TV. Quincy was a coroner, of course, so his patients rarely made wisecracks.

"We'll call you in a few weeks," Yturri said. "Don't worry. It's probably nothing."

That was when I started to worry — and for good reason. Four days later, Yturri called to say that the spot on my shoulder was a melanoma. Very bad. The spot under my right eye was something that sounded like a "Sasquatch," which I'd always thought was an abominable snowman. Also very bad. Both of them, along with my wallet, had to be surgically removed right away. The spot on my right arm, apparently, was benign.

Why me? I'd never been perfect, but at least I'd been Godfearing enough to avoid going to temple. And what the hell was a melanoma, anyway? Like most Americans, I had no idea, although I knew I didn't want one. Fortunately, Roscoe West, formerly of the Texas Jewboys, was my housepest at the ranch that weekend. His brother, he said, had once had a melanoma. "Is he still with us?" I asked.

"No," Roscoe said.

"I see," I said, as I swallowed my cigar.

I also talked with people who knew someone with a melanoma who'd survived and had never been visited with skin cancer again. All this put me through some rather wild mood swings, at times causing me to feel almost at death's door. I'd tell friends about my situation, and they'd say, "Oh, I'm so sorry." This response did little to lift my spirits. At other times, however, I found myself in a surprisingly good mood. Fighting cancer, I thought, might help lend focus to my otherwise unstructured life. It might give me something I'd never really had before: a hobby.

On the day of my surgery, I met with two doctors: Aravind Sankar, from India by way of Los Angeles, and Patti Huang, from Taiwan by way of North Carolina. I came from Northwest Austin by way of pickup truck. "This ain't what's going to get you, Kinky," Dr. Sankar assured me. "The melanoma is very superficial."

"So am I," I told him. "But I don't want to die before the next Yanni concert."

In a small bed in a small room, wearing a hospital smock, I watched a young nurse try to put a needle in my arm for the IV. A fifteen-year-old from a local high school was standing by taking copious notes.

"Damn!" I said, after being jabbed repeatedly to no avail.

"Please don't curse," the nurse said officiously.

"What the hell?" I said, paraphrasing my father. "I can't say 'damn' in front of a c-h-i-l-d?"

I was angry. The one thing I didn't need was a young person who couldn't put in an IV giving me a morality lecture just moments before I was to be wheeled into surgery. Luckily, a major tension convention was avoided. Another person came in, put in the IV, and before I knew it, I was in the operating room.

Dr. Huang would be cutting on my face, apparently, at the same time that Dr. Sankar would be carving up my shoulder. Dr. Sankar introduced me to the anesthesiologist, whom he referred to as "the bartender." After that, it all seemed like a normal evening at the Continental Club. Later, Dr. Sankar told me that I'd really cracked up the operating room as I was coming to. Evidently, someone had asked me a question about my having been in the Peace Corps. My response, according to the good doctor, was that my penis had been cut off in Borneo.

At this writing, I'm happy to say that I'm alive and well and freely dispensing advice to wear sunscreen, a big hat, and a long- sleeved shirt, and to see your dermatologist regularly. In the case of old farts like myself, however, the damage was done long ago, and young people probably won't listen anyway. Health, after all, is merely the slowest possible rate at which we die.

The good news is that skin cancer is rarely fatal if caught early. I do have two little tips to share with you, both of which have worked for me. The first is to do what Michael Jackson does: Hire a guy to follow you around with an umbrella. If that doesn't work, try singing that cheerful old John Denver song, "Melanoma on my shoulder makes me happy."

CHAPTER 3

A POCKET GUIDE TO MULLETS

* * *


The humble mullet has been around since the dawn of man. Modern-day scientists speculate that Homo erectus were the first humanoids to actively cultivate mullets; in fact, the oldest known mullet was rumored to have been discovered in a tar pit next to bag of pork rinds and a fossilized Iron Maiden album. It is argued that the mullet has endured where other creatures have fallen extinct because it is able to adapt to its environment, fluidly shifting and shaping itself like a Kentucky waterfall.

After deciding to acquire a mullet, the first question the new mullet owner must ask is, "What kind of mullet do I want?" Even though, like a snowflake, mullets are all different and beautiful, there are many distinct subspecies to choose from. In this pocket guide to mullets, I will describe mullets you may encounter during your hunt.


MULLET SUBSPECIES

The 10-90: The truest form of the mullet, it contains 10 percent of hair on top and 90 percent in the back. The majority of famous mullets fall into this category: Jesus, Buffalo Bill, MacGyver, Patrick Swayze, Paul McCartney, Luke Sky- walker, Billy Ray Cyrus, Captain Planet. This is the father of all mullets and from its loins sprang all the following subspecies.

The Crimullet: Favored by prison inmates, this is very similar in appearance to a classic mullet; the only difference is that this mullet will seldom, if ever, experience the sweet taste of freedom. Thumb through any prison's mugshot album and you'll find a whole herd of them.

The Drullet: The dreadlock mullet is an exotic blend of mullet and dreadlock. The Drullet is not often seen in America; the most famous one is sported by English footballer Rio Ferdinand. Acquiring one of these may prove expensive due to its rarity.

The Dykemullet: Dykemullets are intimidating and scary; known to be vicious toward males of any kind, this mullet will kill you if you piss her off. Training and socialization do not eliminate the natural-born aggression in these creatures. In many parts of the country their numbers are regulated because they are so feared. Most insurance companies won't provide coverage to homes with a Dykemullet in residence. Dykemullets should never be handled by anyone but professionals. Examples of Dykemullets are Aileen Wuornos and Darlie Routier. Know what they have in common besides their Dykemullets? That's right. They're both on death row (well, Aileen was until she was executed).

The Emoullet: Worn by self-cutting emo kids (melodramatic, depressed teenagers who write bad, whiny poetry, wear girl pants, act glum, and cry in the dark), this delicate mullet always features long bangs brushed over one eye (usually the right eye) with short (sometimes back-combed) hair in the back. It is commonly described as a "reverse mullet." They can be found at any open poetry reading or emo band concert.

The Femullet: This mullet appears on females and is often confused with the angrier, more dangerous Dykemullet. Femullets are generally easygoing, sporty, and paradoxically, either very quiet and docile or very loud and boisterous. Famous Femullets are tennis legend Billie Jean King, rock stars Pat Benatar and Joan Jett, Brady Bunch mom Florence Henderson, and Ashlee Simpson.

The Fohawk: Also "Fauxhawk," this style is a mutation of the familiar Mohawk. It is made without buzzing or shaving the sides of the head; it looks like a Mohawk when it is spiked with gel or spray, but unlike the Mohawk's shaved-to-the- skin sides (think Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, or Mr. T), the Fohawk keeps the sides a bit longer so it can be worn down as well. Mullet professionals consider the Fohawk to be a hybrid cousin to the mullet. Famous Fohawks include Ryan Seacrest, host of American Idol, British soccer star David Beckham, and Bruno the Gay Austrian Fashion reporter from Da Ali G Show.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from What Would Kinky Do? by Kinky Friedman. Copyright © 2008 Kinky Friedman. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     xiii
A Message from the Author     xv
Introduction     1
Advice on Life, Death, and Everything in Between     5
Unfair Game     7
Arrivederci Melanoma     11
A Pocket Guide to Mullets     16
The Five Mexican Generals Plan     22
Bring Him On     25
Epilogue     30
Strange Bedfellows     32
I Don't     36
Zero to Sixty     41
Tennis Anyone?     46
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes     55
My Personal Heroes     61
The Navigator     63
Don Imus Died for Our Sins     67
Animal Heroes     72
Tangled Up in Bob     80
Poly-Ticks     85
Two Jacks     90
Hero Anagrams     95
Ode to Billy Joe     96
The Back of the Bus     100
Lottie's Love     108
Advice on Writing     113
Killing Me Softly     115
Fictional Characters Killed Off by Their Creators     120
Talent     124
Strange Times to Be a Jew: Notes on Michael Chabon's Latest Novel     129
Don't Forget     134
A Tribute to Me     142
What Would Kinky Read?     149
Questions From a British Journalist-1999     153
Does Not Compute     159
Advice on Going on a Journey     163
Texas for Dummies     165
Never Travel with an Adult Child     169
How to Deliver the Perfect Air Kiss     179
Let Saigons Be Bygones     183
Wild Man from Borneo     188
Mad Cowboy Disease     193
Cliff Hanger     197
Robert Louis Stevenson in Samoa     202
Watch What You Sing     209
Advice on Coming Home     215
A Little Night Music     217
God's Own Cowboys     220
Shoshone the Magic Pony     223
The Hummingbird Man     228
How To Handle a Nonstop Talker in a Post-9/11 World     233
Social Studies     238
Gettin' My Goat     243
Change, Pardners     255
Coming of Age in Texas     260
Romeo and Juliet of Medina     264

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